Western Meadowlark

Wyoming State Bird

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Western meadowlark singing - state symbol of KS-MT-NE-ND-OR-WY

Western meadowlark singing; photo © Andrew Williams / Critterzone: Animal Pictures, Nature Stock Photography (all rights reserved; used by permission). This songbird is the state bird in 6 states!

Western Meadowlark: Symbol of Wyoming

Wyoming designated the western meadowlark as official state bird in 1927. A familiar songbird of open country across the western two-thirds of the continent, the western meadowlark is recognized as a state symbol in six states (official state bird of Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wyoming).

Description

In the same family as blackbirds and orioles, western meadowlark adults are 8-11 inches long and have a black and white striped head; a long, pointed bill; yellow cheeks; bright yellow throat; and a distinctive black "V" on the breast. The western meadowlark is often seen perched on fence-posts in grasslands and agricultural areas singing its distinct 7-10 note melody (their flute-like song usually ends with 3 descending notes).

Feeding and Nesting

Western meadowlarks forage on the ground and beneath the soil for insects, grain and weed seeds (it's estimated that at least 65-70% of their diet consists of beetles, cutworms, caterpillars, grasshoppers, spiders, sow bugs, and snails). They also nest on the ground - constructing a cup of dried grasses and bark woven into the surrounding vegetation. This nest may be open or have a partial or full grass roof, and sometimes a grass entry tunnel several feet long.

Predators and Protection Status

Western meadowlark predators include hawks, crows, skunks, coyotes, raccoons, and weasels. Western meadowlarks are still abundant, but declining throughout their range; they are a protected non-game species.

Wyoming

Images

Western Meadowlark photo by John and Karen Hollingsworth:
courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Western Meadowlark photo by John and Karen Hollingsworth: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Videos

Western Meadowlark